Atanas Dobrev – A Fifth-Generation Leader

Few people can boast about winning the title of Mr. Economy. Apart from prestige, it also brings responsibility that this year’s winner is not afraid of. It is precisely that prize that matches his nickname: not only to be the engine behind Bulgaria’s economy by the company he manages but also to be the driving force of smart cities and 5G network without which we will be unable to develop in the years to come.

“Although the prize is a personal one it is an acknowledgment of the entire company’s success and achievements and of our contribution to the development of Bulgarian economy. It is proof that our strategy for so serious investments, about BGN 1.8 billion for 10 years, is correct. For us the quality of products and services always comes first and we put lots of funds and resources into advanced technologies, equipment, systems. We believe that our customers feel the benefits of that policy. And Mr. Economy prize shows that both the authoritative media like Ikonomika Magazine and the whole business community represented by the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria (KRIB) highly appreciate them. For us being market leaders means first and foremost responsibility to the strategy for development of the entire society towards the digitization of Bulgarian economy and its opportunity of being competitive on the world market,” the winner Atanas Dobrev told Trud Daily. Bulgarian Telecommunication Company, Vivatel, Vivacom: the transformation of the telecom over the years was manifest but not that digitally active as it was in 2019. For Atanas Dobrev takes the prize professionally rather than personally it is important to mention the merits for which Vivacom has won its awards this year.

Vivacom’s mobile network has the best coverage in the country according to an analysis of Ookla based on data from Speedtest Intelligence for the first half of 2019. This is the sixth year in a row that the telecom has retained its leading position on the Bulgarian market by generating total revenues of BGN 948 million in the end of 2018, which is an increase of 6.6% compared to 2017.

Speaking of awards, this is Dobrev’s second prize from KRIB for this year: in June Vivacom was given the most authoritative business award of the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria in the Innovation category.

KRIB awards for Atanas Dobrev come in the same year when the Vivacom brand celebrates its 10th anniversary. This is a period in which the company has transformed into a new-generation digital telecom. Speaking of a new generation we cannot help but mention the company’s progress in the 5G network in Bulgaria, and namely the fact that they are ready to launch the service for their customers starting in 2020. Currently, Vivacom is one of the biggest employers in Bulgaria with a total of 5100 spread all over the country.

On a personal level, Atanas Dobrev keeps a low profile but what we can see from his CV is that he has been leading the company for the past seven years and obviously he has been leading it well. He has a MA degree in Business Administration from Crummer Graduate School of Business in Florida and a MA degree in International Economic Relations from the University of National and World Economy.

For Trud Daily he commented what motivates him most: “The telecom market in Bulgaria is highly competitive which is undoubtedly a good motivation for constantly developing the company and for conquering leading positions in different directions: both in purely economic aspect and in launching innovative technology, products and services such as our platform for innovative solutions. What is even more stimulating is to proceed so as to preserve the success you have achieved and to upgrade them by new successful results.” And in a purely human and managerial aspect; what is most challenging in his opinion is to manage to convince your colleagues and each employee in the big organization as well as your business partners that the set objectives are feasible even if ambitious and that we can achieve them together, as a team. And given his good luck with awards this year, in June he was given an honorary medal by the Minister of Interior Mladen Marinov for company’s achievements in limiting telephone fraud: 50% less for just a couple of months.

Dobrev describes 2019 as a dynamic year which is generally typical of the hi-tech sector. “In 2019, we did the first tests of the fifth generation network – 5G – and in the real network at that. This is a new technology that will not only transform the way telecoms work but will also have huge impact on the development of the entire economy and he various types of industries. In 2019, we have continued our digital transformation as a company and we have offered our end customers much more content included in their plans for telecom services: mobile and fixed. We gave them new opportunities to manage their consumption on their own by means of our new mobile application and to shop freely in our online store at time and place of their convenience. These are some serious steps in the development of our field and of the way we will communicate with our customers in the future. From a provider of communication services we are becoming a trusted partner for the everyday life of each citizen, company or institution. In this line of thought I can summarize the year as a very challenging, yet successful one for Vivacom,” Dobrev says.

Although he has been at the helm of a telecom Dobrev manages to spent about 2 hours at his smartphone during the working hours, and on his days off he manages to bring down that time to half an hour. However, he has almost no time for TV.

He convinced foreign investors to buy the telecom for BGN 1.2 billion

Atanas Dobrev convinced the British telecommunication and media company United Group whose majority shareholder is the London fund BC Partners to pay BGN 1.2 billion to acquire Vivacom. The transaction is expected to be completed in 2020.



About him


The good example

The good news is that not only is Bulgarian economy growing but also that Bulgarians know how it happens: by more rationality and efforts. Mr. Atanas Dobrev is one of the good examples. Thanks to his work at a Bulgarian company he managed to convince some international investors who have never imagined they would pay so much money for a Bulgarian company.

Vladislav Goranov, Minister of Finance


He runs the company well

“Vivacom is a well-managed company with strong management and I am excited about the opportunity of developing an even stronger business,” commented Victoriya Boklag, Chief Executive Officer of United Group in a company communication.

Victoriya Boklag, CEO of United Group


A source of ideas and inspiration

Atanas has always been a source of ideas and inspiration for work as well as the driving force for change of the business. To turn the future into a reality one needs vision, leadership skills and tenacity in order to overcome the hindrances along the way. The combination of these three qualities helped make the company the leading telecom operator in the country (since 2013, the year when Atanas Dobrev became Executive Director) that makes innovation a part of the lives of its customers.

Asen Velikov, Chief Financial Officer and Member

Source: Trud Daily, November 2019, English translation – Vivacom